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Food Stamp Cuts Bring Hardship On Thanksgiving For San Diegans

Hundreds of people eat a Thanksgiving meal at the San Diego Rescue Mission.

Credit: San Diego Rescue Mission

Above: Hundreds of people eat a Thanksgiving meal at the San Diego Rescue Mission.

A typical Thanksgiving meal will cost the average family nearly $50 this year, which is far beyond reach for the nearly half-million people in San Diego County who struggle every day to put food on the table.

Food stamp cuts that took effect this month will make Thanksgiving even harder than usual for low-income San Diegans.

A typical Thanksgiving meal will cost the average family nearly $50 this year, which is far beyond reach for the nearly half-million people in San Diego County who struggle every day to put food on the table — especially the 270,000 people who depend on food stamps for meals. Federal food benefits were cut Nov. 1 by $36 per month for a family of four.

“Coming to a meal like this for free is really helping out a lot of those families that just can’t afford to put together a real thanksgiving,” said Herb Johnson, president and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission is one of several charities in San Diego serving a Thanksgiving feast to people in need. Theirs happened to be over the weekend.

By Susan Murphy

San Diego Rescue Mission workers prepare 150 turkeys, 350 pounds of stuffing, 600 pounds of potatoes, 500 pounds of peas and 200 pounds of cranberry sauce for their annual Thanksgiving meal, on November 22, 2013.

Johnson said they set the table for 1,800 — several hundred more than last year. He said their emergency shelter for women and children is a good indicator of the growing number of struggling families.

“In the past year, we’ve seen probably about a 75 to 100 percent increase in the number of mothers and children,” Johnson said.

Johnson said people always like to open up their hearts and volunteer to serve a meal on Thanksgiving, but he emphasized they serve 500,000 meals each year.

By Katie Schoolov

Homeless mothers and their children lay on blanket-covered mattresses at the San Diego Rescue Mission's Emergency Shelter, April 2013.

“So there’s meal services here every single day and there are opportunities to volunteer all year long,” Johnson said.

Other charities serving Thanksgiving meals include the volunteer group Just Call Us. They’ll be providing a feast to people at the San Diego Homeless Shelter and Veterans Shelter on Thanksgiving Day.

San Diego Meals On Wheels plans to deliver 2,000 meals to seniors on Thanksgiving Day.

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